In the heart of the Gothic Quarter, in an alley two steps away from the Ramblas, a century-old store is about to disappear.
"El Ingenio", can be spotted thanks to Picasso’s big headed paper mache look alike that invites us to go there since 1938.
It is a magical shop, full of circus accessories for magicians, clowns and jugglers, but also joke items and all kinds of costumes and old games. The Star article that makes it unique are the giants and "cap grossos", the big heads of paper mache, present in all Catalan festivals.
The colorful shelves of this store are well worth a visit, but even more impressive is the adjoining workshop, you can visit for a few euros, and where we can find shelves full of molds, masks and statues under development. The processing methods are totally manual and some of the casts are more than 150 years old, which makes them true relics.
Founded in 1938 by Escalé, a sculptor best known for his "cap grossos", the store was transferred in 1924 to Delfí Homs, who tried selling religious items and later returned to the origins of the store. His granddaughter Rosa Cardona, has run the store for 50 years.
This shop has had customers like Salvador Dalí, Joan Brossa Cirque du Soleil, among others…
Upon entering, rather than a store, it seems we are in a museum… the furniture is original and although the original cash register has recently stopped working, it was kept and the current one judged too modern for the store, has been "dressed" by a paper mache replica molded onto the old one.
It has to be visited quickly as Rosa has announced her retirement, and if no one wants to take over the store it will close its doors at the end of the year, which will mean losing a truly singular shop in Barcelona…